Wednesday, 30 June 2010

NGOs point to deadly financing gap for water and sanitation in Liberia

Muyatwa Sitali
Liberia WASH Consortium

Muyatwa Sitali has written a new report on the state of water and sanitation in Liberia, which outlines a worrying financing gap and recommends immediate action to halt the crisis facing millions of Liberians.

Liberia‘s newly approved water and sanitation policy states that ‘water is life‘ and ‘sanitation is dignity‘. At present, however, the dire state of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in Liberia constitutes a public health crisis that is killing Liberians and robbing many more of their dignity. Three out of four people have no access to safe water, six out of seven are without access to safe sanitation facilities, and altogether unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene practices cause 18 per cent of all deaths in Liberia.

This new paper, Life and Dignity at risk: Liberia’s water, sanitation and hygiene sector, from the Liberia WASH Consortium, argues that these deaths can be prevented, but that Liberia’s government and donors need to rise to some serious challenges. These include:

  • scaling up coordination of policies and institutions;
  • increasing the woefully inadequate government and donor financing in order to fill the $94 million financing gap;
  • and dramatically improving aid coordination in the WASH sector.
The challenges are serious, but can and must be met in order to halt the scandal of preventable disease and deaths – the denial of life and dignity – that confront millions of people in Liberia through lack of safe water and sanitation.

Key recommendations from the report:
  1. Government of Liberia should speed up the process of finalising sector policies and improve coordination, improve data collection, increase funding for WASH to between 4 and 5 per cent of its total budget and engage better with civil society.
  2. Liberia’s donors should dramatically increase funding to meet the $93.5m financing shortfall, greatly improve their own coordination and alignment with the government including by ensuring that the lead donor is effectively driving this process, and support long-term planning by the government which meets both urban and rural needs.
  3. Civil society should strengthen their engagement in the WASH sector policy and planning processes and provide a means for communities to express their needs, understand their rights and demand services in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector.
You can read the report here, and follow the author on twitter for the latest news on water, sanitation and hygiene in Liberia.

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